Andrew Shaw: World AIDS Day
Sitting down with Healthy Communities’ Paul Martin last week, I was impressed by his calm, professional attitude during what is a difficult time for his organisation, having been defunded by the Queensland Government Health Department in May this year.
I felt most strongly that Martin was confused and frustrated by the announcement of defunding out of the blue, and by the fact that he has not been able to speak with Minister Lawrence Springborg about the future of gay men’s HIV campaigns in Queensland.
“Gay men continue to make up 65 to 70 per cent of infections in Queensland,” Martin says in our interview, “so we expect that the HIV prevention spend should be in the region of 65 to 70 per cent on gay men. But there’s no indication that that’s going to happen.”
Instead, the government has attracted controversial attention with the Grim Reaper popping up in its advertisements – a tactic that clearly exasperates Martin, as you can see from his response in our interview.
Of course, this issue focuses on World AIDS Day, and while the politics of HIV prevention in Queensland are a hot topic at the moment, HIV affects people’s lives on a daily basis. Some diagnoses are recent, while others – like that of our cover model, Gavan’s – are older. He’s been living with HIV since 1987, and as he tells us in his story this week, he’s experienced the ups and downs of his infection through the 80s, 90s and through to the present day.
Elsewhere, Theo Papas, who became positive much more recently, goes into detail about learning about his diagnosis, the events that led up to it, and the way he and others around him coped afterwards. Theo’s story – told with frankness and humour – makes us realise that there is a whole social and psychological side to living with HIV that the stats and factoids do not reveal.
Same-sex couple families – or ‘Rainbow Families’ – are becoming more commonplace, but even single men and women can now put their hand up to make a difference in a child’s life. Foster care agencies across Australia are desperate for people to step up and look after children of a variety of ages with a number of different backgrounds.
This issue, we look at one gay man’s experience of fostering a little boy and how that experience has changed not only the boy’s life, but his own as well.
Our regular sections are here as well this week, with TV, Film and Music, and our columnist Adele Fisher takes on the homophobes as she looks at the impact of the No to Homophobia campaign that challenges people to look at the language they use and how it can adversely affect someone as much as a racial or ethnic slur.